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CASE TITLE: NESTLE PHILIPPINES, INC. vs. HON. AUGUSTO S.

SANCHEZ, MINISTER OF LABOR


AND EMPLOYMENT and THE UNION OF FILIPRO EMPLOYEES.
G.R. No. 75209
DATE: September 30, 1987
EN BANC RESOLUTION
DIGEST BY: John Michael Vida
TOPIC: Concept of sub judice members of the Judiciary branch are prohibited to discuss to the
public, the cases under their judicial consideration.
FACTS:
During the period between the 8 th and 10th of July, 1987, the Union of Filipro Employees
(FILIPRO), and Kimberly Independent Labor Union for Solidarity, Activism and NationalismOlalia (KILUSAN-OLALIA) intensified their picketing in front of the Padre Faura gate of the
Supreme Court building.
This was done even after Justices Pedro L. Yap and Marcelo B. Fernan had received both unions
leaders as Chairmen of the Supreme Court divisions where their cases are pending. Atty. Jose
C. Espinas, counsel of the FILIPRO, had been called in order to inform FILIPRO and KILUSANOLALI to cease their picketing and demonstrations immediately, otherwise they would be cited
for direct contempt of court. The Supreme Court further stated that the Court would not
entertain their petitions for as long as the pickets were maintained.
On July 10, 1987, the Court en banc (as a whole) issued a resolution giving the unions the
opportunity to withdraw graciously. It also required that the union leaders of FILIPRO in the
Nestle case and their counsel of record, Atty. Jose C. Espinas; and union leaders of petitioner
KILUSAN-OLALIA in the Kimberly case to appear before the Court on July 14, 1987 at 10:30 A.M.
and then and there to SHOW CAUSE why they should not be held in contempt of court. Atty.
Jose C. Espinas was further required to SHOW CAUSE why he should not be administratively
dealt with.
On the appointed date and time, the above-named individuals appeared before the Court,
represented by Atty. Jose C. Espinas, in the absence of Atty. Potenciano Flores, counsel of
record of KILUSAN-OLALIA, who was still recuperating from an operation.
Atty. Espinas, for himself and in behalf of the union leaders concerned, apologized to the Court
for the above-described acts, together with an assurance that they will not be repeated. He
likewise manifested to the Court that he had experienced to the picketers why their actions
were wrong and that the cited persons were willing to suffer such penalty as may be warranted
under the circumstances.
He, however, prayed for the Court's leniency considering that the picket was actually
spearheaded by the leaders of the "Pagkakaisa ng Mangagawa sa Timog Katagalogan"
(PAMANTIK), an unregistered loose alliance of about seventy-five (75) unions in the Southern
Tagalog area, and not by either the Union of Filipro Employees or the Kimberly Independent
Labor Union.
To confirm for the record that the person cited for contempt fully understood the reason for the
citation and that they will abide by their promise that said incident will not be repeated, the
Court required the respondents to submit a written manifestation to this effect, which
respondents complied with on July 17, 1987.
ISSUE/S:
NO ACTUAL CONTROVERSY, the issue here is whether or not the unions should be held in
contempt for picketing in the Supreme Courts premises considering that the justices have
already entertained their earlier petitions.
HELD:
NO. But
RATIO:

We accept the apologies offered by the respondents and at this time, forego the imposition of
the sanction warranted by the contemptuous acts described earlier. The liberal stance taken by
this Court in these, should not, however, be considered in any other light than an
acknowledgment of the euphoria apparently resulting from the rediscovery of a long-repressed
freedom. The Court will not hesitate in future similar situations to apply the full force of the law
and punish for contempt those who attempt to pressure the Court into acting one way or the
other in any case pending before it.
Grievances, if any, must be ventilated through the proper channels, i.e., through appropriate
petitions, motions or other pleadings in keeping with the respect due to the Courts as impartial
administrators of justice entitled to "proceed to the disposition of its business in an orderly
manner, free from outside interference obstructive of its functions and tending to embarrass
the administration of justice."
The right of petition is conceded to be an inherent right of the citizen under all free
governments. However, such right, natural and inherent though it may be, has never been
invoked to shatter the standards of propriety entertained for the conduct of courts. For "it is a
traditional conviction of civilized society everywhere that courts and juries, in the decision of
issues of fact and law should be immune from every extraneous influence; that facts should be
decided upon evidence produced in court; and that the determination of such facts should be
uninfluenced by bias, prejudice or sympathies." 4
Moreover, "parties have a constitutional right to have their causes tried fairly in court by an
impartial tribunal, uninfluenced by publication or public clamor. Every citizen has a profound
personal interest in the enforcement of the fundamental right to have justice administered by
the courts, under the protection and forms of law free from outside coercion or interference." 5
The aforecited acts of the respondents are therefore not only an affront to the dignity of this
Court, but equality a violation of the above-stated right of the adverse parties and the citizenry
at large.
We realize that the individuals herein cited who are non-lawyers are not knowledgeable in her
intricacies of substantive and adjective laws. They are not aware that even as the rights of free
speech and of assembly are protected by the Constitution, any attempt to pressure or
influence courts of justice through the exercise of either right amounts to an abuse thereof, is
no longer within the ambit of constitutional protection, nor did they realize that any such
efforts to influence the course of justice constitutes contempt of court. 6 The duty and
responsibility of advising them, therefore, rest primarily and heavily upon the shoulders of their
counsel of record. Atty. Jose C. Espinas, when his attention was called by this Court, did his
best to demonstrate to the pickets the untenability of their acts and posture. Let this incident
therefore serve as a reminder to all members of the legal profession that it is their duty as
officers of the court to properly apprise their clients on matters of decorum and proper attitude
toward courts of justice, and to labor leaders of the importance of a continuing educational
program for their members.